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Police Sting Nabs Gang Members Near Pier

By Olin Ericksen
Staff Writer

August 4 -- A police operation launched in the Pico Neighborhood this summer to disrupt gang activity resulted in more than two dozen arrests near the Santa Monica Pier last weekend, according to a City email obtained by The Lookout.

Police spokesman Lt. Frank Fabrega confirmed officers made 19 misdemeanor, five felony and three parolee arrests, impounded 17 vehicles and recovered one stolen car, conducted 5 “parolee contacts," seized one “replica pistol” and issued 35 citations over the weekend.

Nearly half of those arrested admitted to being in a gang, and 30 percent had indicators such as tattoos, Fabrega said. None of them were from Santa Monica.

City Manager Lamont Ewell noted that the beach attracts large crowds during the summer and that there have been instances of violence there in the past.

"Police are enforcing any illegal acts, but a large amount of those arrested were gang affiliated," said Ewell, who acknowledged that he and council members were receiving periodic updates from the police on the operation.

Referred to in a police email to top City officials as a “gang enforcement detail,” the operation covered the pier, adjacent parking lots and the beach.

It is part of an ongoing effort by Police called Operation Safe Streets, which beefs up patrols in and around the Pico Neighborhood in response to a number of non-fatal shootings over the summer.

While many Pico residents have said police are doing a good job in suppressing gang violence, some have voiced concern at community meetings that the enforcement may target their youths. (see story)

This weekends' action is the first time that "Operation Safe Streets" has reportedly been conducted at the beach.

As a result of the arrests and other actions, police are currently conducting narcotics investigations and have not released information to the public at this time, Fabrega said.

"Once those investigations are concluded, we'll put out a press release," he said.

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